Cultivating equitable communications

Frederico and Rena Perlino Memorial Scholarship supports Ph.D. student

Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student Elise Duffau.

Ph.D. student Elise Duffau chose to attend UCSC because she fell in love with the cognitive psychology program, was excited to learn under Dr. Jean E. Fox Tree, and knew that the supportive community at UCSC would help her to become an outstanding researcher. 

Duffau was awarded the Frederico and Rena Perlino Memorial Scholarship in 2022 for her research centered around artificial agents and human communication. 

The Federico and Rena Perlino Fund supports scholarships and fellowships in the Psychology Department. The annual awards are based on merit and are open to both undergraduate and graduate students whose research focuses on issues related to deafness or the development of new techniques and tools to support members of the deaf community.

“This scholarship will give me the opportunity to focus exclusively on my research,” Duffau said. “I have so many ideas and so little time I’m excited to be able to devote focused time to them. With this scholarship I will be able to create focused and detailed experiments, carefully analyze data, and share my findings with the scientific community at large through presentations and publications.”

Before attending UCSC, Duffau received her B.A. in psychology from Sonoma University in 2017. 

She has worked as a graduate student teaching assistant since 2019, supporting undergraduate students in multiple psychology courses offered at UCSC. In 2020, Duffau co-authored a publication: Personal relative deprivation and mental health among university students. Currently, Duffau works with UCSC’s Spontaneous Communications Lab under Dr. Jean E. Fox Tree.After graduating from UCSC, Duffau plans to pursue an industry job with a tech company. 

“I want to help design equitable artificial agents that everyone can benefit from and find innovative ways to use this technology to help underrepresented groups.”